PhD in Business Administration

Urban land economics specialization


The Urban Land Economics PhD program at in the Sauder School of Business at UBC is a full-time program with the objective to train young scholars to pursue academic research in urban economics, economic geography, housing economics, and real estate economics. Graduates go on to careers primarily in academia, but also research positions in central banks and government. The program is among the best programs in the world in specializing in economics grounded training in research in the fields of urban and real estate economics. Our faculty sit or have sat on the editorial boards of some of the top journals in these fields. The PhD program draws on the ULE faculty as well as those in Finance and Strategy and Business Economics at the Sauder School of Business and the Vancouver School of Economics. A more complete description of the program is in this link. Except for those funded from outside sources, all students making satisfactory progress receive four years of funding (direct grants, research and teaching assistantships). 

A typical background for qualified applicants must include some training in economics or a related discipline with a demonstrated ability to handle advanced quantitative material. An applicant is accepted only if the ULE faculty members believe the individual has a commitment to academic research and the ability to succeed in the program, which focuses on graduate level coursework in economics. Once a student is admitted, the faculty members directly guide the new researcher through the stages of the doctoral program and in assisting the student in creating their own program of independent research. Entrance directly from an honours or first class Bachelor’s degree is a possibility for outstanding students. Students with backgrounds in less technical fields or programs must demonstrate an ability to handle graduate level work in economic theory and econometrics. 

Program of study

The program of study establishes a basis in economic theory, econometrics, urban land economics, and finance. All students are required to take a course in research methodology (COMM 693) and a course in teaching methods (COMM 590B or EPSE 606). The primary sequence in urban land economics is COMM 604 and 605 (Advanced Topics in Urban Land Economics I and II). Students are also required to take courses from the UBC Department of Economics that include the PhD sequence of microeconomics (ECON 600 and 601), a single course (ECON 502 or ECON 602) in macroeconomics, and two courses in econometrics among ECON 527/ECON 626/ECON 627 depending on background. Additional requirements include COMM 671 (Theory of Finance) and two secondary field courses.  

Students are expected to complete their course work in two years and write comprehensive exams at the end of the second year. Students who have not had previous experience with graduate level work may take a little longer.

Sample Program Sequence

  • Year 1 Fall term: COMM 693 (research methodology), ECON 600 (micro), ECON 502/ECON 602 (macro), econometrics course
  • Year 1 Winter term: ECON 601 (micro), econometrics course, field or other course
  • Year 1 Summer research paper 
  • Year 2 Fall term: COMM 604 (urban land economics), COMM 671 (finance), second field course, electives 
  • Year 2 Winter term: COMM 605 (urban land economics), COMM590B/EPSE 506 (teaching course), second field course, electives
  • Year 2 Summer: Comprehensive exam
  • Year 3 Preparation and presentation of thesis proposal
  • Year 4 Preparation and defense of thesis 


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